Advance Orange school plan

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The ballot vote on Jan. 8 to appropriate funds for an elementary school building feasibility study will help determine the future direction of Orange.

The feasibility study will allow us to make an informed choice with regards to our school facilities. I have had the opportunity to talk with many people about their concerns. A number of questions have been raised about the closing of Butterfield School, about maintenance priorities, personnel decisions and class size. I have brought these important issues to the attention of the appropriate boards and individuals.

Whether or not we agree with the decisions that were made in the past, we need to address the larger needs of our community going forward. We need to determine how to provide for the future educational needs of our children and how to best pay for those needs.

Orange voted overwhelmingly at the town meeting to appropriate the funds for this study. This ballot is the final step that will guarantee a 79 percent reimbursement rate from the state for the study and the construction or renovations it recommends. Orange is currently helping to pay its share of the Mahar Regional School construction. By the time we have completed the renovation, or construction of our elementary school, the Mahar debt obligation will be at or near completion (Aug. 1, 2025). The School Building Committee will work to structure the financing to not increase our tax burden.

The Dexter Park School is functionally obsolete. This fact cannot be remedied with the expense of short-term repairs and patches. We are more likely to continue to attract highly qualified teachers with a modern facility. We are more likely to attract businesses and young families who are engaged in our community by investing in it.

I am hopeful that on Jan. 8 we will vote to provide our children, grandchildren and educators a school facility that will meet the challenges of our future. Building a school is part of the bond that we have from one generation to the next.

Bruce Scherer

Chairman, Dexter Park School Building Committee